Friday 12 September 2008

30 - Nick Ibscher

Updated 18/09/08

Nick Ibscher
, a veteran editor who had a way with words and was a stickler for proper usage, has died from lung cancer. He was 53.

The former Toronto Sun, Kingston Whig-Standard, Calgary Herald editor, diagnosed with cancer last year, died recently in Calgary.

"Nick was a man who would jump off a roof - farther and higher than the rest of us - than have something printed wrong in the Sun," says Sandra Macklin, a former Toronto Sun news editor.

"His intensity was legendary, whether about golf or baseball, words or commas. He could argue a point, twice in the newsroom, three times at the bar.

"Nick was my baseball buddy. We shared season tickets during the 1990s run-up to the Blue Jays World Series wins.

"But God, he embarrassed me. Way before Dave Winfield said "Winfield wants noise," Nick had done it at every game. One night, he stood on a seat and harassed polite, quiet Blue Jay fans to bloody-well yell.

"I'll miss my old baseball mate. I miss that he wasn't there tonight when the Blue Jays won their 11th out of 12 games. I called him in Calgary to hoot 'n' holler because we always used to do that and to see how he was doing, but his phone was disconnected."

Sandra then searched the Internet and found a Whig column that mentioned Nick had died.

"I didn't call soon enough to have one more laugh, one more swoon about the Blue Jays, one more discussion about the way of the world.

"He loved his two kitties, Homie and Catullus. Sure hope they found a good home."

(Sandy updated her memories after Joel Colomby's comments were posted."

Sandra Macklin: "Joel reminded me of the Sandranickstas, so I have to tell one more story about Nick.

"Nick and I drafted Dave Steib at Brian Gibbs' ping pong table for $25. Later that year, Nick and I took a bus trip to Detroit for the final three games of 1987. No BJ fan needs to be reminded of what happened that year.

"The Saturday game was over, Nick and I had many beers at Lindell's with Benny Grant, who put us to shame with glorious Tiger stories. Two hours after I'd gone to bed, there was a pounding at my hotel room door: Nick said 'get dressed, Dave Steib's downstairs.' The two of us walked up to Steib, Nick stuck out his hand and said, 'Hey, we're the Sandranickstas, we paid 25 bucks for you.'

"You gotta love him. Because of Nick, I got to shake Dave Steib's hand.

More memories of Nick

Memories of Nick can be e-mailed to TSF.


  1. Happily, Nick's kitties are learning the joys of outdoor life and how to get along with two dogs and one or two other cats at Nick's sister's in Ontario. I also golfed often with Nick and his enthusiasm for life was infectious - I miss him.

    Frankie Thornhill, Calgary Herald

  2. I was just thinking of Nick yesterday; today I belatedly read that he's gone. I was thinking of him as I was reading about a new documentary called Abel Raises Cain. I still remember a headline Nick wrote when I was working with him on the news desk at the Sun in the mid '90s. The story was about a disabled senior thwarting a bank robbery by whacking the robber with his cane. Here's Nick's head:

    raises cane

    Nick was truly one of the best copy editors I've ever worked with. I believe he got his start at CP, and this post doesn't mention that he also worked at the Toronto Star. Nick had been looking for work, having quit the Sun impulsively one day. He came to see me at the Star, I told him who he should see about applying for work. I sang his praises to the editor doing the hiring. Nick got on, but he only stayed maybe a year. He couldn't stomach the Star's frustrating CCI computer system. One day, I learned he'd just up and quit that job, too. That's the way he was: brilliant and mercurial.
    We'll miss you, Nick.
    Roman Pawlyshyn

  3. i learned of nick's death belatedly on this site. we were colleagues on the sun desk, but long before that we were students together at rye high back in the 70s.

    that's when i got my first taste of nick's unique nature.

    my favourite recollection:

    we were sitting in the last row seats of a lecture hall in ron shirtliffe's (sp?) english class during a one-man presentation by a fellow student, the unforgettable dawna-lee aprile.

    her presentation was not at all boring, but nick -- who was sipping from an extremely hot cup of coffee -- got distracted, and he pondered life and death. What would mourners do, he wondered, if they noticed a fly landing on a deceased person's nose during a viewing. it was a macabre conversation at a totally inappropriate time but it seemed funny at the time, but maybe that was because we were supposed to be paying attention to dawna lee, not cracking wise.

    the short of it is he said something that I found funny, then i topped it with something he thought funny, one thing led to another, and he took a sip of scalding hot coffee while simultaneously trying to suppress another round of giggles when he spit-sprayed all over the desk.

    this had a domino effect--he shook and spilled more hot coffee on his lap, causing him to give a loud yelp, prompting anyone in the hall who had not been distracted by our earlier giggles to stare in our direction.

    dawna lee, ever gracious, later forgave us when i approached her with an apology on our behalf.

    at the sun, nick was the semi-official keeper of the infamous "sonofaswish" files kept hidden deep in the bowels of the paper's computer system--drawn out to see the light only on those occasions when a copy editor had a contribution to make to the file or on one of those slow days when reading it would raise some guffaws.

    I never thought to ask nick if he originated it, but "sonofaswish" was a compiliation of bad leads, bad spelling, and a variety of other "raw" copy before touched by copy editors.

    nick pointed out it wasn't intended to make fun of the authors--just a testament to the good work copy editors do in catching and fixings the writing gone awry.

    but that's not to say "sonofaswish" did not contain examples of some of the "fixes" copy editors made to copy and which nick himself added to the list. another testament to his meticulous style.

  4. Found this site belatedly. Often wondered how things were with Nick. We inherited a cat from him in Thunder Bay, and "Jeff" aka "Jethro de Bodine Bean," became our daughter's best friend. Nick, when bored between assignments at the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, would call the local radio phone-in show, and affecting different accents, would lead the host on a merry chase through nonsensical ideas, never letting him catch on that he was being had.

  5. I was lucky enough to have been his friend when I worked there and after starting around 1995 onwards. He was as described by others, passionate, funny,generous and a good friend.
    One day we went to play mini-put and I realized much later that he let me win. He took out my kids at Christmastime to see Toy Story. At the last minute after a girlfriend of mine cancelled for a fundraiser, he bought a suit the same day and we went out that evening.
    Oh, how he loved his cats! They always had the best names. One newspaper memory that I still inwardly laugh at was when the Sun ran the front page and it read "Boob Ray", after our then premier was involved in another blunder. Even though, he received much heat and the editor had to personally apologize, everyone working there at the time enjoyed the malarkey. Albeit years have gone by since his passing, I have enjoyed reading about him and wanted to contribute. I still miss him. He was a real mensch.